Vol. 4 Num 203 Sun. December 21, 2003  

Light and shade
Of ballads and blues of Bangladesh
Abdus Shakoor's exhibition at Bradford

Senior folklore artist, Abdus Shakoor's exhibition of 40 of his works is on till 24th January, next year, at the Cartwright Hall in Bradford, UK. The exposition traces the development of Shakoor's style with a number of his works about Bangladeshi village women, their romances, tragedies, hopes, fears and tales of everyday life coloured with romantic imagination.

The art works, with their predominance of blacks, browns, along with vibrant vermilion and gold, go hand in hand with blues and greens. Shakoor also brings in the flowers, birds, animals and reptiles like lizards and poisonous snakes, the latter being very much in vogue with the west.

Shakoor's use of simple lines and selective strokes make his works unusual indeed .The artist's vibrant works of the rural Bangla resound with Mymensingh ballads and tales, drawn from both Muslim and Hindu folklore and tradition, which have a universal appeal. The works speak of death, lamentation, love, parenthood, power and present a host of mythological characters, like Mohua, for international consumption. Along with the delineation of women, with their chokers, pendants, nose-rings, strings of beads and the traditional "khopa" are their confidantes, lovers, fathers and friends.

Also on focus are tigers, cattle, birds of different shapes and sizes, and of late, the venomous snakes with black triangles on the sinuous long bodies as well as yellow and black lizards, with their bodies decorated with herring- boring lines, dots and semi-circles. The last subject had been popular by the Australian Aborigines years back, and has surfaced as something popular with even the expatriates in Dhaka. One can well expect their attraction for the European viewers at Oldham Gallery.

The exhibition also brings in folk art and paintings by the great Indian artist, Jamini Roy, along with those of the well-known Bangladeshi artist and cartoonist, Shishir Bhattacharjee. During the last days of the exhibition, stories and pictures produced by local school children linked to the exhibition will be on display.

Art work by Abdus Shakoor